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November 11, 2016

Impeach Christie, asks top New Jersey Democrat

Request comes as governor transitions Trump to White House

New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has officially called for impeachment proceedings against Gov. Chris Christie in light of testimony from the Bridgegate trial that contradicts the governor's claim that he did not know of a scheme to close down lanes of the George Washington Bridge.

The request comes as Christie, who's polling at abysmally low numbers among his constituents, leads President-elect Donald Trump's transition into the White House and stands as a potential member of Trump's coming administration.

Weinberg released a letter Thursday evening asking General Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to consider impeaching Christie. A majority vote in the General Assembly to pursue impeachment results in a trial in the state Senate. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

"During the now completed Bridgegate trial there was considerable testimony under oath that Governor Chris Christie had knowledge of a conspiracy to misuse government resources to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge," Weinberg said.

Christie has repeatedly denied having any prior knowledge of the plot and reiterated as much when former aides Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni were convicted in November for allegedly orchestrating the scheme to exact revenge on a political rival.

But Kelly and Baroni, as well as two other former aides, said under oath that Christie knew more than he said he did.

Rumors had been swirling of a possible Christie impeachment when the Bridgegate trial began. A September report cited one source who said the likelihood of impeaching the governor was 50/50.

If the General Assembly moves to impeach Christie, the state Senate becomes his jury, with the chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court presiding over the trial. A two-thirds majority in the Senate removes Christie from office.

Obviously, if Christie leaves to take a position in Trump's administration, impeachment would seem more like a symbolic gesture. But Weinberg noted that it would also bar Christie from holding further public office in the state, in addition to "correcting the public record."

A Christie spokesperson rehashed a previous statement about potential impeachment after Weinberg's letter, calling it "ridiculous," according to the Asbury Park Press. Prieto would not rule out the move but said it was "unfortunate" that Weinberg made the request in a press release.